• September 19, 2020

GOP candidates stump at Marriott - Odessa American: Local News

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Posted: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 3:31 pm | Updated: 3:41 pm, Wed Sep 16, 2020.

Republican candidates vying for city office made their pitch to members of the Ector County Republican Women’s Club on Wednesday.

Around 200 people gathered at noon Wednesday in the Marriott Hotel and Convention Center to attend the ECRW club luncheon for a mayoral and city council candidate forum of those vying for seats in November’s election.

Eight of the 13 city council candidates were in attendance and ECRW President Sherry Hurt said that because of club bylaws, only Republican city council candidates were invited to the forum.

Those in attendance running for the District 1 seat included Mark Matta and Tiki Frank Davis. Rachel Minor and Steve Thompson showed for the District 2 seat. Denise Swanner and current Mayor David Turner made appearances for the At Large seat and those running for mayor who were at the forum included Javier Joven, Gloria Apolinario and Becky Latham, who spoke for her father current District 2 Councilman Dewey Bryant. Latham said Bryant could not attend because he was at home recovering from a medical procedure.

Candidates were invited at 10:30 a.m. to set up their tables with campaign signs and cards in the Permian Ballroom at the Marriott. Candidates later gathered on the stage for opening statements and to answer three pre-written ECRW member questions and also give closing words. Latham gave opening and closing statements for Bryant, but declined to answer questions on his behalf.

Council candidates answered three questions including how they see “defunding the police” impacts Odessa and what measures they would take to ensure first responders have support.

All candidates referenced their support for local law enforcement and spoke about how they felt the police department is vital to the function of the local community.

“There is just no way we can have an effective city by defunding the police,” Matta said adding that he was vehemently opposed to such action.

Davis had similar sentiments.

“Police presence is vital in every community so I back the blue as well because without law enforcement we have nobody to police us because it’s not like 30 years ago when the community used to police itself….” Davis said.

Candidates were also asked if they would consider issuing debt without voter approval like council did with a $93 million debt issuance in 2019. Council members approved the issuance without voter approval in a 5-1 vote. Both Bryant and Turner approved of the issuance.

While Matta, Apolinario and Joven said that they would not consider issuing debt without voter approval, some candidates had other opinions.

Thompson said that nobody likes increases in taxes, “however there are situations that present themselves to cities and other forms of government where you get behind the curve sometimes. Our city continues to grow and has grown so hard and so fast that we have not been able to keep up with our infrastructure…sometimes you have to do certificates of obligation. It’s not something you want to do, occasionally you have to do that.”

Minor said that she would take a practical approach to raising taxes.

“Most of us business owners and families have a budget and so we should live within our means. There are times when that (debt issuances) is needed, but I think it is used more widely than it should,” she said adding that she believed in government accountability.

“Most of the time if you tell someone why things are happening and you show them proof and communicate effectively, I think that the citizens have the right to know where their money’s being spent and I am not for raising taxes.”

Turner said that he voted yes for the debt issuance because, “we had to have fire stations. Right now with our partnership with Ector County, we run out of ambulances on a weekly basis. That means you call an ambulance, you may not have one. Another thing that we’ve put toward was infrastructure,” he said adding that in the past, the city has not paid for infrastructure and now certain water and sewer lines are at capacity.

Candidates also answered if it is easier to raise taxes or make budget cuts to make up budget deficits.

Swanner said that, “the lazy way would probably be to increase taxes, but I like to look at budgets, so I think the budget can always be looked at and you can cut somewhere if needed to be,” she said.

Apolinario said that the last resort would be to increase taxes.

“There are a lot of people out there that are hardly making it and if we are increasing our taxes, where are we gonna be…why is Odessa so different, why are we in all these problems. I think it’s because our government is not working right,” she said.

Joven spoke on how he’d look at budget cuts and said that he wouldn’t cut police or fire departments. He said that while Odessa has expanded to many areas including entertainment, recreation and real estate, “We have got to get back to what we’re supposed to be doing and that is fire protection, public safety and water quality,” he said.

The Black Chamber of Commerce of the Permian Basin will be holding a nonpartisan city council forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Floyd Gwin Park Gymnasium located at 1015 N. County Road West.

BCCPB Executive Assistant Wanda Clayton said that masks and social distancing will be required and if the forum becomes too crowded, some people may not be allowed in.

 

 

 

 

 

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